The Holy Spirit Prays For Us
“The Holy Spirit Prays For Us”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 30, 2017
Pro-Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Brussels, Belgium
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-49
God’s commitment to His people is so powerful that He would never break His covenant with them. When He says He will do it, He will. It may not be according to our time schedule because His timing is different from ours. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. It’s almost as if He doesn’t move in time because He’s always the same. His love for us is that way also; it never fails.
The Old Testament today talks about David coming to the end of his life. God said that he was a man after His own heart and his kingdom has reached its peak. Solomon, his son, is going to take over as king and David calls him to his death bed. He tells Solomon to “be strong and show yourself a man”. This is a statement which in our society today is hard to understand because most of our men aren’t strong. Men have become effeminate, contrary to the male character of strength. A strong man doesn’t run away from difficulties but faces them with strength. He’s not intimidated, not confused and does not accept failure. This is what David told Solomon: “be strong and be a man”. A man is only a man when he is strong because strength is the very foundation of maleness. David told Solomon that he must walk in the ways of God if he wants to succeed. Later on God spoke to Solomon in a dream and asks him what he desires God to do for him. If God would ask you that question, what would be your answer? We all have dreams, desires, goals and wishes. Solomon told God that the task he had been given as king was daunting. He would be ruling over so many and he wasn’t sure if he could be a good king. So he asked God for understanding, with a heart to judge between right and wrong, good and evil. He asked God for wisdom. God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold….I have given you a wise and discerning heart so that there has been no one like you before, nor shall one arise like you. I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor….” Solomon didn’t ask for the other things but it’s God’s character to love man and He desires to see man prosper. In Genesis, at creation, He commissioned man to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. You can’t do that if you’re poor. This is why He gave everything to Solomon such that there would be no other king like him. God did this for him because he only asked for wisdom, the ability to discern right from wrong, to understand the people and deal with them according to that understanding. Many times we don’t understand what a person is facing and why they are acting the way they are. But with the wisdom God gives us, we will know and we can then minister to them.
Here’s a pattern that speaks to us in Ordinary Time. What we should be seeking is understanding and wisdom. “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” I believe this is one of our main problems today – we lack the knowledge of God’s principles and ways, and so we find ourselves struggling, confused and lacking the ability to overcome, most of the time giving up rather than being victors and overcomers. We are more than conquerors in Christ. We have to believe that the answer is in Christ.
From the reading in Romans, we know that God has done so much for us. He died for us and gave us holiness and righteousness. He gave us the Holy Spirit who now dwells in us. Most of us can’t understand that. How can the Holy Spirit dwell in weak flesh? In the Old Testament, when the high priest went inside the holy of holies, he would die if he had sin because he would come face to face with the perfection of God. They would tie a rope around his leg and bells at the hem of his robe so that in case he’s struck dead, they could pull him out; because nobody could go in and pull the body out. Yet today the Holy Spirit dwells in us and we’ve attained holiness, righteousness and blamelessness because of Christ. His work in us is perfect, enabling Him to dwell in us. The Holy Spirit knows us better than we know ourselves because He can discern our thoughts and our weaknesses. Scriptures tell us that in our weaknesses, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Listen carefully because this is hope for us. He can pray for us to the Father because He knows the will of the Father. He knows what the Father has done for us in Christ and if this is not being manifested in our lives, He prays for us. It’s an awesome thing to believe that God would give one of the Trinity so He can pray for us; so that in our weaknesses, He can strengthen us. He can pray for God’s will to be done in our lives.
Sometimes we don’t see what’s going on with ourselves because we’re adjusting to the world around us, rather than standing out and being what God wants us to be. God said we would be seen as peculiar by the world because we won’t go through all that they would go through; because we have the ability to conquer and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us so we can live out the will of God. The Holy Spirit won’t pray that we be cursed or punished when we make a mistake, but that we be forgiven and restored to righteousness again. It will come to the point where, if we understand, “all things work together for good to those who love God”, because the Holy Spirit is with us and when we fail, He prays for us. The Holy Spirit works in us in behalf of the Trinity, in oneness with the Trinity. If He intercedes for us and we submit to Him, wouldn’t this bring our lives to a new level of hope?
“All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Do we know our purpose; God’s calling upon our lives? Sad to say, most of us are seeking the direction of the world: fame, wealth, the acceptance and admiration of many. We have set our own patterns in life instead of seeking the purposes of God and His will for our lives. Romans 8 tells us that if we are called according to His purpose, He also foreknew us and predestined us. This doesn’t mean we have no choice; we do, but He predestined us before the foundation of the world to be like Christ. Therefore if He predestined us, He’s conforming us to the image of Christ. He also calls us, justifies us and glorifies us. If this is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, can we begin to see why Scripture says “if God is for us, who can be against us?” This is the hope we have in Christ.
Parables are symbols that bring out the truth of what God is saying to us. The Gospel today talks about the smallest seed, the mustard seed, but when planted, it grows to become the tallest tree in the garden. This tells us that we may be doing something that’s so small but we must hold on because soon it will be so big that many people will “rest” on it. Look at the disciples; there were only 12 of them to do the work of Christ, yet today because of these 12, hundreds of millions have responded. The work started only as a seed but it grew to change and win the world. In India is a church built by St. Thomas. Jerusalem is a long way from India, especially because at that time there were no airplanes and automobiles, but after Christ left, Thomas went to India. It took him about 20 years to get there because he had to walk most of the way. He ministered there and built several churches. Imagine how much effort it took to build a church. I’ve been to the church he built, knelt at its altar and wept as I realized the hope we have even in just a seed. Today approximately 62% of Indians are Christians, regardless of what we hear about India. And it all started with one small seed. Let’s not get easily discouraged when we don’t immediately see the results we expect. It’s the little things that become the “big tree” that people will go to for rest.
The Kingdom of God is like leaven which, when added to flour will affect the whole dough. Sometimes we think the leaven is sin; not necessarily. It’s the symbol of the power to multiply. Just a little leaven or yeast will affect the whole. The little things that we do for God are powerful and will go a long way.
The Kingdom of God is like a treasure in a field; like a man seeking a pearl, and finding the most beautiful pearl, he sells everything he has to buy it. This talks to us about our life in Christ, the value of the Kingdom and what He has done for us – the Holy Spirit in us who intercedes for us according to the will of God, drawing us back into a relationship with God. Can we see how valuable this is? Will they not propel us to set aside everything else to follow Him?
When I was younger, I didn’t want to be in ministry even if my family was in ministry. I wanted money so I could give my children the things I didn’t have; to follow my way instead of God’s. But it came to a point where I realized I couldn’t do that. I had to follow God. When my boss called me to say that the Board of Directors has chosen me to become Executive Vice President of an international conglomerate, I said I couldn’t accept it because I had to be in ministry. Nothing can take the place of the joy and peace that come from walking with God because you have Him on your side all the time. I have seen miracles in my life because I chose to be with Him. I encourage you to begin to ask God for wisdom and understanding to grasp all that He has done for you. All we have to do is submit and walk in it. Can you imagine the Holy Spirit interceding for you everyday? He doesn’t want you to go the wrong direction. If you’re facing sickness or any form of weakness, He intercedes for you. We pray for each other but nothing’s more powerful than the prayer of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
In this Ordinary Time, we have everything on our side; everything pertaining to life and godliness. We lack in no good thing but we don’t understand this. “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” I hope that I can bring a bit of knowledge and a seed of hope to plant in you because that seed will grow and become a tree where the birds will build their nest in the work that you do in the Kingdom of God. May we realize God’s commitment to us. He gave us the Holy Spirit because He won’t let us fail. When we take the wrong step, the Holy Spirit will ask God to pull us back. Be blessed and thankful because we are His children. Christ is His Son and so are we – sons and daughters of God. The world is waiting for the answer. We have the answer. Let’s live it out for His glory and honor. Amen.